Friday, July 25, 2008

"Ghost Rider" Motorcycle?

I received an email from SWMBO yesterday which included images of a motorcycle of a most unusual design.

It reminded me of the Ghost Rider, which was a big Summer Movie for Nicholas Cage last year (2007).

True, the images would be frightening if you saw this custom motorcycle in your rear view mirror while driving down the freeway.

But it's obvious that the motorcycle is a 'Concept Vehicle', and will never be ridden on the road.

In the first place, the exhaust pipes are sited just in front of the rider's right leg. Can you imagine riding down the road with the pipes melting your chaps, and the exhaust slowly roasting your lungs?

Also, there's no chain on the chain-drive. Pretty hard to be 'riding down the highway, looking for adventure' without a chain.

Finally, there are a few 'Street Legal' requirements which have been omitted from the design.

Example: headlights, tail-lights, fenders. And the gas tank (under the 'rib cage'?) looks like it would hold about a quart of gas.

Still, it's an awesome creation, and you can't help admiring the artist for his creation. If those bones are made out of metal, someone is is a magician with a cutting torch.

Geek and SWMBO Medical

Thanks for all the friends, new and old, who have responded to the medical reports I've been sending out lately. Your support and concern is very much appreciated. I've not intended to play on your sympathies, I only wanted to let you know why we haven't been showing up at matches much lately.

SWMBO and I both had doctor appointments today, here's what is going on.

... was in the hospital for a few hours this morning for a second Biopsy. You may recall that the last one, a Bronchoscopy (sp?) and biopsy was not successful in gathering enough material in the infected pocket of her right lung to determine the nature of the infection (I use the word advisedly ... so far, we don't know what it is that lingers from her 'walking pneumonia'.)

We were told that the first biopsy attempt was dramatically unsuccessful, and the second attempt would include an incision in the chest wall to insert a fiber-optic cable and 'surgical instruments'.

A consultation with the new surgeon revealed that a different procedure would be possible, where they performed the biopsy via a needle inserted into the lung via the chest wall. (Actually, through the back.) This was performed this morning, and as I was unable to accompany SWMBO to the hospital I waited nervously all morning to hear from her. About 12a:30 I called her on her cell phone. She was in a restaurant, eating lunch with her sister, who had accompanied her to the hospital as a driver.

She was fine, the procedure was a success and it provided sufficient material for a biopsy. Since the procedure was performed under a local rather than a general anesthetic, she was not groggy ... just hungry, because she had not been allowed to eat breakfast.

I saw her later in the afternoon and she seemed fine; no problems other than that she was very tender on her back. She'll receive more information about the results of the biopsy from her physician next week.

I also had a medical appointment this week. My exam by my new doctor earlier this week revealed no urgent need for treatment, so this was only an Ultra-Sound examination by a technician, to search for anomalies in the veins and artery in my left leg. After a 30-minute examination, the technician reported that she could see no signs of either an aneurysm or blockage, so I don't expect any immediate medical complications.

Of course, the results of the Ultra-Sound examination still needs to be interpreted by my doctor. However, he will be on vacation next week, so it will be the second week in August before he has the opportunity to review the results. That shows you how concerned he is. (Nothing against The Good Doctor, it's just that he doesn't consider my condition to be any kind of emergency.) My guess is that he will send me for a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to search for a cause of the discomfort.

I'll keep you informed. Okay, it may not be very interesting to you, but it helps me to write it all down.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Fire!" is not a Range Command

Fire burns grass on Saddle Butte - Albany Democrat Herald

Mike McCarter reports that a bullet fired on the Albany Rifle &Pistol Club (ARPC) Main Range started a grass fire.

"... [W]e had a lot of excitement on Wednesday with the north end of Saddle Butte behind the 200 yard line going up in flames. Yes Martha, steel jacket - steel core can start fires. We had talked to the Brownsville Fire Department about a practice burn on the hill and they could not because of the proximity to I-5, well this took care of the issue. The fire departments did a heck of a job putting the fire out on steep ground and poison oak then got called back out after 5pm to put out a flare up.
It's July, the grass is dry, the bullets fly, the grass will fry!

(Sorry, I couldn't resist. It seemed so obvious.)

This is a situation which can happen at any shooting range. A steel-core bullet hit a rock downrange at a bench-rest area of the Club, and the resulting spark started a grass fire.

From what I read, the ARPC leadership had foreseen the problem and attempted to take preventative steps, but County government was unwilling to accommodate the entirely practical fire-prevention plan.

For those who didn't understand the "I-5" reference:
ARPC is located at "Saddle Butte", a small two-peaked butte or hill in the near vicinity of Shedd, Oregon, and just East of the Interstate 5 Freeway ("I-5"). The Freeway is perhaps 200 yards west of the range boundaries, and the are in question is on the West side of Saddle Butte. There is a nut-tree (Hazelnuts?) orchard between the freeway and the range. The Bench-Rest range is 50 yards East of the western range boundary, and as stated the fire started in grass another 200 yards away from the benches.

Add the dimensions and the dry-grass area was 450-500 yards East of the freeway. The prevailing wind in this area is West-to-East (explaining why I am so determined to emphasize the East vs West location of landmarks relative to the freeway), so the fire would have tended to spread East and up-hill on Saddle Butte, not West and down-hill, toward the freeway.

I seems to me that ARPC did just about everything 'right', and there was never any chance that a fire on the range would have threatened the freeway traffic.

Just to put things in perspective:
The area along the freeway (10 miles south of Albany, Oregon) has been one of the biggest producers of Grass Seed in the nation. For years, "Grass-seed Farmers" have grown their crops, reaped the seeds, mown the hay, and then burned the stubble to kill any weeks which may have been blown in from West. This produced tremendous volumes of billowing smoke during the post-harvest season (July through August).

Typically, every few years the smoke was so dense and low to the ground that driver visibility along that stretch of the I-5 Corridor was so obscured that horrendous traffic accidents occurred every few years. In my memory, it was not unusual for twenty to fifty cars would be involved in multiple compound pile-ups.

First one car would slow down because of the decreased visibility, then a car behind would run into the slower car. More cars would run into the wrecks ahead, and inevitably a few 18-wheelers would crush the wrecked cars ahead of them. Vehicles which were mercifully able to see the carnage ahead would veer wildly off the road ... often only to tip and roll because of the occasional steep banks off the shoulder of the freeway. At 70 miles an hour, it doesn't take much to roll a car ... much less a tractor-trailer rig.

Oregon State University "Crop Scientists" developed a machine which could be pulled behind a tractor and would dig the stubble and weeds from the soil and compact the plant material to pellets. This would then be sold as fuel for fireplaces and wood stoves. This became a preferred fuel, as Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations restricted using wood products for fuel.

Thus field burning is rigidly restricted near the I-5 corridor, and is become increasingly restricted in other areas of the state. Which makes it only reasonable that the local fire departments are reluctant to authorize "Controlled Burns", even on the downwind side of the I-5 Corridor.

It was a crap shoot, and this time the DEQ came up snake-eyes. Accidents happen, and what they tried to prevent (field burning near I-5) by refusing to authorize a 'controlled burn' turned into an 'uncontrolled burn'.

Maybe they should have permitted the request from ARPC, who clearly had a much better understanding of the potential danger.

To paraphrase my own Geek Aphorism:
"It's better to do it, and not need it, than to need it, and not do it."

Maybe next year ....

Ode To Joy

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Quotes

A couple of months ago, I discovered The Quotes Page.

I've had a lot of fun with it, and I think that citing a themed collection of quotes on the website establishes theme for blogging during the week.

It hasn't exactly worked out that way, but it's so much fun to search for and set up a collection of similar quotes every Sunday night (or Monday night, if I get behind) I look forward to selecting a few for the Blog once a week. In fact, it's sometimes hard to choose.

The unexpected consequence is that, during conversations with friends and colleagues I sometimes realize that I have immediately at hand an authoritative quote which precisely fits the moment.

An excellent example is this week's quote from Simon Cameron: "An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought."

This was a very popular quote in the years when Jerry Brown was the Governor of California (and especially, his father before him).

No, I can't say why this should be. I only report my observations.

WiFi Router is Down! Oops, it's back up!

I live in a townhouse duplex. The owner of the building, and my Landlord, occupies the other half of the property.

Paul, the Landlord, is a pretty good friend. Last September we were chatting in the rose garden which separates our driveways, and he asked: "Jerry, you have hi-speed internet don't you?" He knows I spend a lot of time on the computer at night, partly because during warm weather when the windows are open he can hear the music I play while I'm working on the 'puter.

(Currently playing: Queen, the Platinum Album)

After a little artful dodging, he got down the the point of the question: "Is there any way I can hook up to your internet connection?"

"Sure", I replied. "You pay for a Router, I'll set up an encrypted Wi-Fi site and give you the access codes. Cost to you will be about $50 bucks."

He agreed to it, and the next day I stopped off at Bellevue Computer, Inc. here in town and spent $49.99 on a Netgear 54mbps wireless router.

When the Frickin' BlueBird of Happiness flew into the local power substation, shorting out the whole neighborhood and (not incidentally) frying my motherboard, Bellevue built me a new computer for about $75o to my exact specifications, including my old hard drive as a secondary drive. I've been completely satisfied with their work, and besides SWMBO works as a purchasing agent for Benton County Computer support and does a lot of business with them, to the satisfaction of Benton County and SWMBO. You can't get a better recommendation.

Although the router was a simple, entry-level bit of hardware it took me over two hours to install, configure and apply security to it. But when I was done, I took my laptop around the property and out into the street. As nearly as I could tell, the promise of a 100' perimeter was proven and I could use my laptop anywhere close to the house. This guaranteed that Paul would have the same success, and he was pleased when I presented him with a bill for $50 and the ID/Password for entry to the net.
Fast forward to last night, when I tried to access the Blog via Firefox ... and couldn't.

After about a half-hour of fussing with the cable modem and the router, I disconnected the router from the circuit and hooked the modem directly to the 'puter. Success, I could get online as long as I didn't go through the router. I sent an email to Paul (fat chance of him receiving it ... he had no internet access!) with promises that I would re-establish contact within 24 hours.

On my lunch break from work, I went back to Bellevue with my router in my hand and asked for advice. Kim suggested that I reconfigure the router with the DOS command ipconfig /release followed by ipconfig /renew. That didn't work for me, so I went back to Kim and bought a new Wi-Fi router ($75, 2x the data-transfer rate and 4x the coverage, according to on-the-box ratings).

When I got home from work tonite, I tried to set up the network again. Failure, failure, and failure after three attempts.

It took me two hours to decide that my problem wasn't with the new router, but with the new 14' cables I bought so I could physically position the router in a better place than on top of the PC case, in the footwell of my computer desk. I used the original 4' cables and got a reliable connection, and reconfigured the whole circuit just as I had set it up originally.

Now I have the Wi-Fi connection working for me, as confirmed by using the laptop to connect to the net.

I sent an email to Paul (this one he is more likely to receive, having an internet connection again) to announce that if he noticed an interruption in web access, it has been fixed now.

I never did figure out what caused the router to fail, but I don't much care. I can use my laptop anywhere on the premises, which is an occasional convenience to me. More important, I've provided a similar convenience to my friend and landlord, Paul.

Since he hasn't raised my rent since 1995, I figure this is an investment in the continuance of an amiable relationship, and I'm happy with that.

If it matters, I noticed during the process that there are eight other Wi-Fi 'hotspots' within range of my house. They're all encrypted, so I can't use them. Still, it's an interesting data-point which demonstrates, if nothing else, that the proliferation of Internet Technology is a vibrant part of small-town America.

(I can also access the Internet on campus with my laptop, via my ownership of an account on the Oregon State University website.)

Aren't computers fun?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sticks and Stones ...

"Sticks and Stones may break my bones,
But words will never hurt me."

Remember that? Well, forget it. In this Politically Correct 21st Century, words can cut you to the quick because we've been told that.

Who believes it?

Bill Cosby believed it, in 2004:

[COSBY – speaks against the use of the word “nigger”; says it is analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us.]
Jesse Jackson believed it, in 2006:
Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling for entertainers to stop using the N-word.

He and other leaders held a news conference in Los Angeles Monday, calling for the voluntary ban. The move comes one day after comedian Michael Richards appeared on Jackson's radio show to apologize for his racial rant last week.

As CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker reports, Jackson is going after TV and film stars, as well as musicians.

Jackson says he plans to meet with TV networks, film companies and musicians to talk about what they can do to stop using the racial slur.


At Monday's news conference, Jackson and others said the insult highlights issues of racial problems in America.

"We will challenge and urge all artists and comics to stop using this word," Jackson said. "What other group is subjected to such a degrading terminology?"
(More at other sources, including here.)

But what does The Right Reverend Jesse Jackson believe in 2008?

First, he uses that same proscribe "N-Word" in his own personal conversation ...

and on the same day he verbally attacks Barack Obama, in a "private conversation", for the perceived crime of ".... talking down to black people", when Obama enjoins "Black People" to show more responsibility in their personal lives.

What does this mean? Is it an example of hypocrisy in Jackson's personal ethics, or it is a cultural phenomenon unique to American "Black people"?

I'm more inclined to believe the latter, although as an Oregon Redneck I can't profess any authority on the subject.

Still, it is a form of hypocrisy no matter what standard one uses.

Our society has become so engaged in Political Correctness that we can no longer depend on a standard of behavior, or even the Constitution of the United States of America, to provide us with basic guidelines of converse, let alone conduct.

In his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Sadly, we have not yet reached this goal. But the obstruction is not solely due to white men with dogs, and clubs, and fire-hoses. The self-styled leaders of Black Americans find themselves unable to move beyond antiquated patterns of speech even while they rant publically against the same abuses which they themselves practice in private.

We will never rise to the standards of Dr. King as long as the insincerities of the Jesse Jackson's among us mire us in the abyss of a Politically Correct Speech to which they themselves do not subscribe.

It is time for the Black Americans to throw off the chains of 'words which hurt us', as much as it is time for the Islamics of the world to disregard sloppy and unthoughtful speech, and join the community of "words which will never hurt us".

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America acknowledge Freedom of Speech. But this, the most precious of Rights acknowledged there-in, is the most elusive of rights and the most difficult, because it protects the speech of the most disagreeable sort.

We will never be truly free, until Jesse Jackson can call Barack Obama a "Nigger" without suffering from public approbation.

I regret that I must make the point so baldly.

PS: Jesse, I don't like Obama any more than you do (for entirely different reasons), but ... you got some Mouth on you. Don't you think you should take up the cause of Free Speech?

Keyword Activity

My statistics software is a never-ending source of information. Sometimes I think I should directly address the "Keyword Activity" hits ... which tracks the data searches which result in the correspondent visiting this website.

Tonite I found a few queries which reminded me that there are a LOT of people out there who desperately need information. I'll yield to temptation.

The first query: "Can you shoot .38 mm in a super 38"?

This resulted in a hit on the article "XL650: .38 Super", which probably did not provide the answer.

Here's the answer: no.

The .38 Special cartridge (which I assume is the cartridge referred to as ".38 mm", is much longer than the .38 Super cartridge. It would not fit into the chamber. Other apparently similar cartridges which will not fit include the 9x23 and .357 magnum.

There are several cartridges which would fit into the chamber of the .38 Super, but they would not cycle the action because the semi-automatic pistol action which typifies a .38 Super-chambered pistol headspaces on the cartridge case. This is decidedly different from those cartridges (usually revolvers) which slip into the chamber/cylinder until the rim of the cartridge case stops further forward movement. In the case of revolvers, this may leave a small distance between the leading portion of the bullet and the nose-cone, which funnels the bullet into the barrel. This is why you can shoot a .38 Special cartridge in a .357 revolver (the .357 case is longer, preventing you from shooting a .357 Magnum cartridge in a revolver chambered for the .38 Special cartridge.)

The .38 Super case is shorter than a 9x23 cartridge. Although they are very close to the same case length, the 9x23 will not chamber in a pistol chambered for the .38 Super cartridge.
(* ... see correction by Guy Neill in Comments, and the UPDATE below.)

On the other hand, the 9x21 cartridge is very close to the same length, and may actually fit into the .38 Super chamber. However, the 'jump' distance is too long, and other factors may make this an inadvisable experiment. For one thing, there may be a lot of 'flash' when the case does not headstamp correctly (picture lots of fire coming out of the parts of the gun which are not even close to the muzzle), resulting at least in much power being wasted before the bullet enters the barrel. Worse, the 9x21 cartridge when loaded to the Over-All Length of the .38 super, will most likely not seat the bullet firmly into case. In the first case, you may experience a "Squib-Load" malfunction, in which a bullet may be stuck inside the barrel. This is A Bad Thing, because a second round fired through the gun may blow up the gun because the barrel is obstructed. In the second case, chances are than the recoil of the gun may work the bullet out of the cartridge case. This dumps gunpowder into the magazine and the gun will not cycle correctly which might be the least destructive effect of attempting to shoot a short cartridge in a firearm chambered for a longer cartridge. (The .38 Super may be considered a "9x22" cartridge, referring to the diameter and length of the case.)

The 9x19 ("9mm Parabellum" or "9mm Luger") is even shorter than the 9x21. Any problems which you may experience by attempting to fire a 9x19 in a .38 Super would be even worse, but most likely the rimless cartridge would drop fully into the chamber and the firing pin would never reach the primer ... if you are lucky.


Another query is "minimum shotgun shells take down pepper poppers", resulting in a 'hit' at the article "Practical Shotgun".

This question is much less fraught with peril than the first.

But not much less complicated.

First, one assumes that the question was asked by someone who contemplates participating in Practical Shotgun (rare), Multigun (less rare), or 3-gun competition (more common).

The answer, referring to shotgun ammunition, has three parts: caliber ("gauge"), length, and shot size/weight.

For competition, the standard is to shoot a 12-gauge shotgun. Shooting a 16-gauge shotgun may be possible, but ultimately frustrating.

The shotgun is a Hi/Lo Pressure firearm. In part this refers to High Base vs Low Base ammunition, meaning that some configurations of the brass base of the multi-component shell provides more pressure (and we assume higher velocity) than others. These are "high-base" vs "Low Base"; shooting the low-base ammunition presumably results in lesser recoil than high-base. Also it refers to the situation situation where a shotgun shell, when fired, starts out slow (primarily due to the big bore of the gun), and doesn't recoil as much as a rifle which attempts to accelerate a similar weight of metal to a sustainable velocity. As the shot load accelerates down the barrel of the shotgun, the powder continues to burn and continues to accelerate the shot. Because this activity doesn't occur with the suddenness of a pistol or rifle, the recoil is not as intimidating.

What this means is that the shotgun shooter can shot a heavy charge without suffering from the recoil penalties typical of, say a Magnum Rifle shooter. This allows the shotgunner to shoot a heavier bullet/shot weight than a rifle shooter without experiencing unbearable recoil.

In the context of this question, there is not much recoil penalty for choosing to shoot a 12-gauge vs a 16-gauge shotgun, but the downrange effect of the 12 gauge is more violent. That is to say, your chances of shooting a 12 gauge shotgun rather than a smaller gauge (16, 20, 410, etc.) and reliably knocking down a Pepper-Popper is better. There are more pellets, the shot-weight is higher, the pattern is tighter and you'll hit with more, bigger pellets.

How about the length ... of the shotgun shell?
Typically, a longer shotgun shell implies that more powder may be loaded behind a heavier shot-weight. Thus, a 3" shell may be more effective than a 2-3/4" shell. In the actual event, this is not usually a big factor. It is easy to reliably knock down a pepper popper with a 2-3/4" shell.

The ultimate factor: throw-weight and shot size.

In order to knock down a pepper popper with a shotgun, the goal is to hit the target with the most weight at the greatest velocity. Almost everything you have read so far ... high-base vs low-base, 3" vs 2-3/4" shell, 16-gauge vs 12-gauge ... has to do with the velocity.

But what you want to do is to put as many pellets on the face of the steel as possible. There are reasonable arguments to use 1-1/2 ounce loads rather than 1-ounce loads. There are reasons why a #6 shot is better than #7 shot ... and vice-versa.

Shot density puts more pellets on the steel, which is one reason why you should consider using an Improve Choke or a Modified Choke (or other, see the chart) on the shotgun when engaging steel targets at a specified distance. But if you only consider ammunition, it pretty much depends on your ability to hit a 11-5/8" vs 8" target *(the largest diameter of a Pepper Popper vs US Popper) at that specified distance with the bulk of your shot pattern.

Are you confused yet?

Okay, I shoot a Mossberg 590 with an open (un-choked) barrel, and I get along just fine shooting a #6 shot from a low-base 2-3/4" shell at any steel target.

This may seem anti-climactic to you if you have read the whole thing, but you can break your heart trying to figure what is the best shot shell against a pepper popper. The whole point is, center your shot pattern on the target, and it will go down.

It really isn't the ammunition, or the gun, which makes the difference at the distances which we usually engage steel targets. It's whether you can center the shot pattern on the target and put the maximum throw-weight on the target.

What's that? You think I could have said this at the start? Sure I could have, but would you have been convinced that the ammunition is less important than accuracy?

One of the most difficult lessons to learn in shotgunning (or any shooting discipline) is that you have to work on accuracy first. Eventually, you may become so proficient that you can get a hit and defeat the target at extreme ranges by choosing the best combination of gun and ammunition.

But if you have to ask what is the "minimum shotgun shells take down pepper poppers", then you really needed to work your way through the reasoning to reach this conclusion.

I am so pedantic. Sometimes I don't like myself so much.
* UPDATE: 23-JUL-2008
Corrections from Guy Neill in Comments:
Sorry, Jerry, the 38 Super case IS 23mm long, just like the 9x23.

The 9x23, however, has a larger diameter at the base than the 38 Super ahead of the semi-rim.
Thanks for keeping me honest, Guy.

(NB: Guy Neill writes the "Neill on Reloading" column in the USPSA House Magazine, Front Sight. In any apparent contradiction between what Guy says and what The Geek says, always go with what Guy says.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Toy rocket inspires variable-speed bullets

Toy rocket inspires variable-speed bullets - tech - 21 July 2008 - New Scientist Tech
A gun that fires variable speed bullets and which can be set to kill, wound or just inflict a bruise is being built by a US toy manufacturer. The weapon is based on technology used to propel toy rockets.

Lund and Company Invention, a toy design studio based near Chicago, makes toy rockets that are powered by burning hydrogen obtained by electrolysing water. Now the company is being funded by the US army to adapt the technology to fire bullets instead.

The US Army are interested in arming soldiers with weapons that can be switched between lethal and non-lethal modes. They asked Company Invention to make a rifle that can fire bullets at various speeds.

The new weapon, called the Variable Velocity Weapon System or VWS, lets the soldier to use the same rifle for crowd control and combat, by altering the muzzle velocity. It could be loaded with "rubber bullets" designed only to deliver blunt impacts on a person, full-speed lethal rounds or projectiles somewhere between the two.

Bruce Lund, the company's CEO, says the gun works by mixing a liquid or gaseous fuel with air in a combustion chamber behind the bullet. This determines the explosive capability of the propellant and consequently the velocity of the bullet as it leaves the gun. "Projectile velocity varies from non-lethal at 10 metres, to lethal at 100 metres or more, as desired," says Lund.

The company says that the weapon produces less heat and light than traditional guns. It can also be made lighter and could have a high power setting for long-range sniping.
Sounds pretty kewl, eh? And New Scientist Tech reports it with breathless enthusiasm ... until they get to the "fair and balanced" part where their house liberal manages to cast a shadow on the technological improvement with his non-sequitor "Jump The Shark" moment:
Steve Wright, a security expert at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK warns of the potential risk of variable lethality.

"In a high-stress, high-personal-risk zone, there will be a real temptation for soldiers to turn the tuneable lethality switch up to 'kill' mode so that all doubt is removed."

Well ... duh.

When you find yourself in 'indian country' (which may well be a domestic riot) and the goblins are over-running your position with blood in their eyes, if they're ignoring the obvious warning shots this may be God's way of telling you that you're no longer in a "non-lethal" situation.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It could turn out either way, depending on the situation. If you're at at Global Eight convocation, the National Guard may better be armed with different technology. But if you're at a roadblock in Baghdad, the ability to revert to Lethal Force when a truck-load of high explosives is refusing to stop may make the difference between a propaganda coup for Al-Queda and a laudible increase in body-count for the Good Guys. It's always situational, when you're on the defense.

New Scientist tends to present weapons technology in the context of a predictable format. First they highlight the innovations as if they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and then they throw in the kicker, which is that 'somebody may get hurt'.

"Pain-maximizing weapon could be abused"

"Safety testing of non-lethal weapons must be tightened"

"Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons"

"Taser-proof clothing creates new hazards"

But my favorite article is the one on "Password-Protected Bullets"

Here's an article on a microwave weapon in their 'weapons technology special report' folio:
Microwave Weapon Controls Crowds With Sound
A microwave projector bombards 'rioters' with microwaves, causing a burning sensation within 3 to 5 seconds which strongly encourages the mob to move out of the way of the projector.

N.S. suggests:
James Lin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Illinois in Chicago says that MEDUSA is feasible in principle.

He has carried out his own work on the technique, and was even approached by the music industry about using microwave audio to enhance sound systems, he told New Scientist.

"But is it going to be possible at the power levels necessary?" he asks. Previous microwave audio tests involved very "quiet" sounds that were hard to hear, a high-power system would mean much more powerful – and potentially hazardous – shockwaves.

"I would worry about what other health effects it is having," says Lin. "You might see neural damage."
I don't know. Maybe it's only responsible to point out the potential dangerous side-effects of these purportedly 'non-lethal weapons'. Maybe the folks who are responsible for defending a nation's infrastructure aren't aware of the not-so-nonlethal possible effects of these new weapons.

On the other hand, maybe those folks figure that they've made an effort to provide warnings that this area is prohibited, as in Robo-Cop's warning: "Step away from the vehicle, or there will be trouble".

Sometimes bellowing out verbal warnings and reading the Riot Act through a bull-horn aren't enough to get the message across.

When defending an Iraqi police station, with a queue of potential recruits threatened by charging suicidal bombers, it may advantageous for the troops to have a certain lethality component in your non-lethal weapons.

If you're unconvinced, either way, read the articles ... and then read the comments.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Doctor Doctor, Give Me The News ....

..... I've got a bad case (Robert Palmer)

Unfortunately, I've also got a bad case of being addicted things which are Bad For Me.

Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, meat and potatoes, pasta, did I mention that I can't abide fruits and vegetables?

Also extreme sports such as motorcycle riding (terminated when I couldn't find a decent mechanic to maintain my 1200cc Yamaha Venture, so I gave it to my nephew-in-law), and USPSA Practical Shooting Competition, etc.

The point is, I've been a Bad Geek for most of my life, and it is finally catching up with me.

Last month I noticed an 'odd sensation' in my upper leg / groin area, which seemed to be a 'bubbling' feeling in my femoral artery. It was a tingling sensation, which seemed to be timed precisely with my heartbeat.

Saturday, last weekend, this sensation (no, it was not titillating) was so pronounced that I spent much of the day 'listening' to the non-aural sensation. Finally, around 5pm, I decided that this was Not Good and I hied myself to the emergency room of the local hospital.

"Doctor Dan", the ER man, asked my what my greatest fear was. I replied that I suspected either a congestion, leading to a heart attack, or an aneurysm; either of which could render me hors de combat by the morning.

Doctor Dan performed a physical examination and announced that I exhibited no signs of congestion of the femoral artery, and that an aneurysm would have resulted in several secondary symptoms which I had not demonstrated. He then referred me to a Doctor Foley in a medical clinic associated with the hospital.

My appointment with Dr. Foley is for 1:30 Monday Afternoon, and I anticipate that the Good Doctor will recommend several life-style changes, which I will be reluctant to establish.

There is a guilt-trip just waiting to happen to me, and I find myself willy-nilly preparing myself to Just Say No.

Depending on the ability of The Good Doctor to terrify me (I've managed to frighten myself to a considerable degree over the past ten days), I may have some interesting news to share this week about my medical condition.

FWIW, SWMBO has been dealing with the unfortunate circumstances having to do with a case of Walking Pneumonia which has inflicted itself upon her for the past several months. She is lethargic, has no energy and little stamina, and is required by her Doctor (Dr. Cho) to take an oxygen bottle with her everywhere she goes.

She was subjected to a Bronscopy and Biopsy last Tuesday, and they almost "lost her on the table" during the biopsy. While they were attempting to scrape samples from the infected portion of her lungs, she went into a coughing fit due to bleeding at the site.

They discontinued the procedure (running a tube through her nose into her lungs), and have since decided that they collected an insufficient amount of diagnostic material. In the next couple of weeks, they will attempt to biopsy her lungs surgically. This involves a surgical incision through her chest wall, after which they will insert a fiber-optic tube and surgical micro-instruments to collect samples of the infected area of her lung.

SWMBO is bearing up under this frightening expectation as well as she can, and I have my own medical concerns. We both have appointments Monday afternoon, and it's difficult to tell whether we can both participate in each others diagnostic appointments.

Things are becoming more interesting here in Geekistan, medically speaking.

We'll keep you informed.

Note to Nancy (both of you): yes, SWMBO did receive your (Nancy A: get-well card) and (Nancy B: flowers). Thank you both for your support.
UPDATE: 21-JUL-2008

Well, my doctor's appointment today was a slow curve. Interview, physical exam, and I go into the clinic Friday for an Ultra-Sound. This doctor can't find anything wrong with my circulation, and the complete lack of other symptoms eliminates a lot of other possibilities. If they can't find anything on the Ultra-Sound, they'll put me in for an MRI. This seems like a soft tissue rather than a bone problem, so Xrays are a third possibility. The doctor is going on vacation next week, so you can see how worried he is.

SWMBO had a consultation today with her doctor, the surgeon. They decided to opt for a 'needle insertion' biopsy rather than the chest-wall incision, and this is much less invasive. If they still can't get a good biopsy sample, then they still have the other option.

She's feeling positive about it, and so am I.

Thanks to the fine folks who wrote and called with their support. I didn't mean to sound alarmist about all of this, but I'm not accustomed to requiring medical attention and SWMBO and I are both ready for a solution to her issues. We just want her to feel like her usual bouyant, energetic self.

You realize, of course, that this means I have to start loading up ammunition for when we can both get back to our normal three-matches-a-month regimen of competition. Even when I can go to the range, it's just not the same thing going by myself.

Heller the Hero Strikes Again

Dick Heller Doubles Down

Geek with a .45 scores a double whammy on DC's duplicitous denial.

Mr. Heller has (for the second time in recorded history) applied to the District of Columbia for permission to register a handgun.

Read the whole thing.

Chinese Police Shoot Reporters - Negligence?


Three Chinese reporters attending a police briefing on the success of an anti-gun campaign were accidentally shot, media reports say. [ed. emphasis added]

An officer picked up one of the weapons on show - a confiscated home-made gun - but it went off in his hand.

A reporter needed surgery for injuries to his ankle, crotch and chest, after being hit by what appeared to be pebbles fired by the gun.

Two others were slightly injured in the incident in Nanchong, southern China.
Well, it's a start.

This is a classic example of "Negligent Discharge", don't be mislead by the "accidentally shot". The only other possibility is that the police deliberately fired on the journalists. What were they doing handling loaded weapons, anyway? Did they not know how to unload it?

The report says it was a "home-made gun" firing "pebbles". Maybe the previous owner couldn't afford Encoded Ammunition or a firearm fitted with Microstamping Ammunition Technology.

Is this the future in America?